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Project Steps
The Return
Outfitter Camper
Mile Marker Winch Installation
Suspension Mods
Custom Fabrication
Forged Wheels
Exhaust Upgrade
Trans Fortification

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Mile Marker
12,000 lb
Hydraulic Winch

Project Great White

by Patrick J. Chicas

  1. Read the instructions.
  2. Use quality tools.
  3. Wear eye protection and proper clothing.
  4. Disconnect the battery while working on the vehicle.
  5. Do not lift weights that you're uncomfortable with.
  6. Do not drink or use drugs while working on your vehicle!

Four Tons of Fun can get you in serious trouble. At 7700lbs. soaking wet, our F-350 is one Big Truck! Getting our butt's out of the proverbial sling while deep in Baja, far from the nearest AAA operator won't happen at the notion of high floatation tires or better than average driving skills. Honestly, in the humble opinion of this off-road veteran, if you plan on venturing off the pavement in a serious way, a vehicle of this size absolutely needs a recovery system capable of pulling the vehicle's GVWR+ out of the nastiest situation.

Fortunately for us, the kind folks at MileMarker stepped up to the needs of Project Great White with sponsorship via a full-on, 12,000lb. hydraulic winch system. What? Hydraulic? Yep, unlike the more common, electric winch systems, this unit is powered by a hydraulic motor that derives its power from the power steering pump attached to our mighty PowerStroke Diesel. "So why is this better?" you ask. Well, right of the top of my head, I can envision long duration pulls to be a much more reasonable practice than with an electric unit even while UNDERWATER!. Hydraulic motors have an incredible life cycle. Same with power steering pumps. Can you say the same for an electric motor under severe load? The MileMarker unit is sealed from the elements. Yes, it works underwater as well as above. I don't want to start a debate here, as we'll solve this riddle next month when we cover a 12,000lb winch "Pull Off" between our MileMarker and a very popular electric unit so, let's move on to the installation.

Our 70-52000C model, landed on our doorsteps on a mini pallet. The kit included an incredibly stout front bumper and grille guard that acts as a winch mounting platform, numerous hoses, a remote solenoid control valve, hose fittings, nuts, bolts and others items. The net weight of this package is just over 200 lbs. All components are first class. MileMarker seems to have the corner on super tough industrial grade fasteners. Most every item was rated extremely high, including the washers.

Parts Layout Hardened Fasteners
Out of the box and ready for bolt-on. The kit consists of high pressure hoses, the hydraulic valve assemble, various fasteners, the stout mounting bumper and the winch itself. All told, just over 200lbs. are added to the front of the vehicle. Nothing but the best fasteners are used on this kit. Take these cadmium plated, hardened, "Grade #8" items for example.

On our F-350, the first order of business involves removing the front bumper and tow hook assembly. Note, that we left the bottom valance apron in place as the limited re-insert, plastic fasteners holding same are best accessed with the bumper laid open from the chassis. An early surprise on our rig was the proliferation of Metric fasteners. Just about every fastener we touched on the mighty Ford was measured in millimeters. Before you start this project on your rig, we strongly advise you to stock up on high quality, metric wrenches and 1/2" drive sockets.

Bumper Removal Tow Hook Removal
Remove the 4 bolts holding the massive F-350 front bumper. Leave the apron fasteners attached for now. Remove the 6 bolts (3 per side) and the tow hooks. The winch bumper mounting rails will be attached here.

The winch bumper attaches to rails that are fastened to the F-350 frame using the former tow hook mounts. I can't think of a stronger or more accessible point to attach to the chassis. Now, I'm are pretty "anal" about details and I wanted to make sure that the installation was perfect. So, I puckered up and proceeded with the details. 

  1. Attach each rail and put a light but, not "tight" torque on the fasteners. This allows for easy yet, small and accurate movements for alignment, care of  my favorite nylon mallet.
  2. Once the "eyeball" was comfortable, I used a Carpenter's Square to insure that the rails were perfectly aligned to the truck chassis.
  3. With the help of Stormin' Norm, we raised the winch bumper into place for the "test fits" to insure that we had a sure fit on final assembly.
  4. Looking good, we then attached all fasteners and lightly torque'd them as described in step #1.
  5. We double checked the clearances across the winch bumper and then removed it.
  6. After re-attaching the stock bumper we then raised the winch bumper into place and torque'd the fasteners to spec. Not a hair could pass between the mounting rails and the vertical bulkhead of the bumper. Call that "AR Satisfaction".
  7. The same winch bumper rails provide "perfect fit" accommodations for the stock tow hooks.
Square Railsl Test Fit Rails to Bumper
Use a carpenters square to align the bumper mounting rails then lightly tighten the fasteners in the holes previously used for the towhooks. The rails should sit perfectly flush against the side of the winch bumper vertical bulkheads.

The bumper weighs in excess of 100 lbs and must be held in place while fasteners are placed. Make sure you have a strong helper for this task.

Wow! The F-350 is already intimidating. With this extra steel up front, even the most brave, road rager will steer clear when we enter traffic.

Further test Fit Bumper Mounted
Install all fasteners and tighten to spec.

Note: carefully remove the pressed in, plastic fasteners on the valance apron with a common, claw hammer and screwdriver. The fasteners must be re-used in the best possible condition.
Drive the vehicle over uneven road surfaces and around town for approximately 50 miles, adjust alignment as necessary and re-tighten all fasteners.

With the bumper firmly in-place, the next order of business is the placement of the winch mechanism and motor. And here folks, we find a few problems and present rules to remember on assembly.

Trick #1. Do not use washers on the inside of the fairlead bolts. The winch mechanism sits so close to the front of the mount that washers will raise the exposure of the head bolts and misalign the mounting holes for the winch.

No washers used
The fairlead bolt should be inserted without a washer on the winch side of the bumper, or the winch will not align with the mounting holes.

Remember ol' Norm? We had him grow a third hand because it takes five to lower the winch onto the bumper and guide the coiled winch cable in place through the fairlead.

Trick #2. Anchor the cable outside the fairlead at first opportunity.

Fasten the winch assembly to the bumper.

DOH!! The mounting holes do not line up!

No problem, a stout drill, a slightly oversize drill bit and a liberal amount of cutting oil will open the hole to provide alignment. What'ya bet, that MileMarker has this fixed on your install?

Install Winch Misaligned Holes
You'll need four or more hands to place the winch on the bumper without unraveling the cable. Once in place the winch cable should be secured outside the fairlead. Oops! Not all of the mounting holes were in alignment. We drilled out and de-burred this hole to make the fit.

All the heavy lifting is done and it's time for technical craftsmanship. The trick at this step of the project is locating the proper mounting point for the control solenoid. The F-350 engine compartment is complex and crowded. The front of the truck is a very efficient airdamn that offers little in the way of passages for routing the hydraulic hoses. To get the proper access as well as a perspective of the best control valve mounting points, we removed the large plastic tray assembly for the air filter system, snorkel and second battery. Do not be intimidated, this entire assembly is attached by no more than 8 bolts. Once out of the way, even a ham handed guy like myself can squeeze grapplers into the many tight space areas to perform the job.

Engine Bay Photo Engine Bay with Battery and Airbox Removed
To access the power steering box and mount the control valve, you must remove the battery and air filter box. Take extreme care with all battery leads to prevent an electrical fire. As a practice, I tape the positive (+) lead excessively with durable tape while I am working in the surrounding area.

Four hydraulic hoses are included with the milemarker kit. Two hoses run from the winch motor to the valve, and two from the valve to the vehicle's power steering system. Since our rig is Diesel Powered, the power steering pump also serves as a boost mechanism to the vehicle's brakes. This is commonly called a "Hydraboost System". MileMarker places the solenoid control valves into the vehicles power steering system, between the hydraboost mechanism and the steering box. Attach the new hose to the steering box leaving the fasteners loose. Note: it is almost impossible to avoid a power steering fluid spill at this step. Insure, that you have a drip pan in place to protect the garage floor as well as the endangered, spotted, ring-nosed, hermaphrodite whale that may be affected if the demon, fluid spill finds itself mysteriously into the gutter, then the flood control system and on to the ocean via transcontinental river system. Most of all, watch out for the Green Police!

Old Hose @Steering Box New Hose @Steering B0x
Identify the original hose from the steering box to the hydraboost assembly (power brake). This is the steering box side. Remove the hose at this end first.

Note: Spillage of power steering fluid will occur at this point. Make sure you have a drip pan in place to protect the floor.
The new hose in place. Place the opposite end of this hose above the motor temporarily, to prevent further fluid spills.

Disconnect the same factory hose at the Hydraboost system and attach the other hose from the control valve. Leave the fittings loose.

Old Hose @Hydraboost New Hose @Hydraboost B0x
Remove the old hose at the hydraboost assembly.

Note: Pry apart the various hose routing clips and consider re-use of the chaffing buffer material.
The new hose attached.

Note: this image was taken with the air filter and battery box re-installed.

Make sure that the Freewheel Orifice Checkplate is placed in the control valve behind the hose that is fastened to the top port of the winch motor. With all lines routed and installed, wiggle the control valve into the most optimum mounting position. Test-fit the battery and airbox tray back to insure that proper clearances between all points are available. Once you are satisfied, permanently fasten the control valve mounting plate and valve assembly.

Free-Wheel Restrictor Valve Mounted
Make sure that the "Freewheel Restrictor Orifice Plate" is inserted in the valve where the hose from the top fitting of the winch hydraulic is attached. The slotted side of the orifice plate should face outwards.

Consider marking one of two hoses between the valve and the winch motor for identification.
With all hoses routed and attached (fastened lightly) to the valve, choose and attach your mounting location and secure the valve.

Make sure that the battery and air filter box as well as the air inlet snorkel have adequate clearance. The proper fit will require considerable trial and error steps before you attach the valve mounting plate to the bulkhead.

Since our plate was mounted in a blind location, we chose to use self tapping screws to mount the valve mounting plate.

Torque all hose fittings per spec. Reinstall the battery and airbox tray and refill the power steering pump reservoir.

It goes without saying, that all hydraulic hose runs should avoid sharp metal and plastic abrasion points. Yes, even plastic can wear through a stout rubber hose when pressure is applied at the right angle.

As an extra step, we will return to our installation after putting a few hundred miles on our vehicle to make sure that hoses have not settled into dangerous positions. If they have, we will use top quality, rubber insulated hose mounting clamps to pull the hoses into protected locations. We'll cover this step along with the wireless system installation next month. Stay tuned.

Routed Hoses Winch Plumbed
Route hoses away from sharp metal or plastic areas.

Re-inspect all hose runs after they have settled into place or approximately 200 miles. Consider using rubber insulated mounting clamps to further route hoses properly.
Our system is now completely plumbed and leak free.

Electrical connections for the MileMarker hydraulic winch system are extremely simple. Quality connectors, wire and zip ties are provided. Use them!

We chose to mount our hand control receptacle up front on the bumper. A quick trip to the Trailer Supply store offered the proper size and color in mount. We used surplus, stainless fasteners from the winch kit to make this part of the install "AR Tech, perfect".

Electrical Connections Remote Control jack
Our semi-final electrical connections are tidy and safe. Solderless connectors are used throughout.

We will further secure the electrical work when we add the wireless system next month.
We purchased a standard, trailer light jack, mounting plate to fasten our wired, remote control receptacle to the bumper.

Follow the instructions on bleeding air from your power steering system. Clean up your mess and you're finished. Once we have proven the system to be leak free as it appears, we will flush the entire power steering system to insure that we have a common fluid base with all possible contaminants purged.

Installation Complete Remote Control jack
Our installation is complete. We are ready for next month's "Winch Pull Off" where we place the Mailemarker Hydraulic against a similarly rated electric winch. This image depicts the approach angle with standard vehicle ride height. Our suspension mods and tire/wheel upgrades will raise the bumper height by approximately 10 inches.

What's next?

Enjoyment of a cold beer and a comfortable chair in the semi-well lit yet, plush garage at ORC headquarters.

Seriously, we will place our MileMarker Winch System against a well known electric winch of the same capacity on a similar truck platform for the first ever, "Off-Road.com Winch Pull Off". The folks at MileMarker seem to be extremely confident. In early conversation, with a snicker in their voice, they insured me that they would pay for any damages on the electric winch vehicle. I I think their confidence is well grounded. My guess is that the electric unit will become a smoking heap of ozone spewing wires and insulation.

We shall see for sure.

Stay tuned!

Tools Used
3/8" Ratchet Drive
3/8" Drive Extension 12"
3/8" Drive, Air Ratchet
1/2" Ratchet Drive
1/2" Drive, Air Impact Wrench
1/2" Drive Extension - 4"
3/8" Drive, Universal Joint
1/2" Drive, Universal Joint
8mm Socket, 3/8" Drive
10mm Socket, 3/8" Drive
13mm Socket, 3/8" Drive
15mm Socket, 3/8" Drive
15mm Socket, 1/2" Drive
18mm Socket, 3/8" Drive
18mm Socket, 1/2" Drive
1" Combination Wrench
3/4" Combination Wrench
11/16" Combination Wrench
5/8" Combination Wrench
9/16" Combination Wrench
1/2" Combination Wrench
12" Crescent Wrench
8" Vise Grip Pliers
Diagonal Wire Cutters
Needle Nose Pliers
Solderless Wire terminal Crimpers
31/64th" Drill Bit
Cutting Oil
Alignment Punch
Strong Helper with Three Hands

Work Time:
Primary Person 10 Hours
Helper 1 Hour

Skill Level Required
Off-Road Race Truck Fabricator  
Indy Car Master Mechanic  
Nascar Crew Chief  
Rocket Scientist  
Senior Gearhead in Residence  
Backyard Mechanic with Good Tools  
Gearhead Groupie  
Victim of Freeway Muggings  

Fully Capable
Needs Minor Supervision
Don't Leave 'Em Alone
Forget It!

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